Mosquitoes on a plane: Disinsection will not stop the spread of vector-borne pathogens, a simulation study

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
(Accessed 8 July 2017)

Research Article
Mosquitoes on a plane: Disinsection will not stop the spread of vector-borne pathogens, a simulation study
Luis Mier-y-Teran-Romero, Andrew J. Tatem, Michael A. Johansson
| published 03 Jul 2017 PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Mosquito-borne diseases are increasingly being recognized as global threats, with increased air travel accelerating their occurrence in travelers and their spread to new locations. Since the early days of aviation, concern over the possible transportation of infected mosquitoes has led to recommendations to disinsect aircraft. Despite rare reports of mosquitoes, most likely transported on aircraft, infecting people far from endemics areas, it is unclear how important the role of incidentally transported mosquitoes is compared to the role of traveling humans. We used data for Plasmodium falciparum and dengue viruses to estimate the probability of introduction of these pathogens by mosquitoes and by humans via aircraft under ideal conditions. The probability of introduction of either pathogen by mosquitoes is low due to few mosquitoes being found on aircraft, low infection prevalence among mosquitoes, and high mortality. Even without disinsection, introduction via infected human travelers was far more likely than introduction by infected mosquitoes; more than 1000 times more likely for P. falciparum and more than 200 times more likely for dengue viruses. Even in the absence of disinsection and under the most favorable conditions, introduction of mosquito-borne pathogens via air travel is far more likely to occur as a result of an infected human travelling rather than the incidental transportation of infected mosquitoes. Thus, while disinsection may serve a role in preventing the spread of vector species and other invasive insects, it is unlikely to impact the spread of mosquito-borne pathogens.